Free prize inside

Customers love free stuff, don't they? The problem is that, when you own a very small business, giving away free stuff cuts too much into your profit margin. … Or does it? Linda Balon-Stein of Zosimos Botanicals, a “green” cosmetics company, says it doesn't have to.

For example, at an Earth Day event yesterday, Linda gave customers gift bags containing her business card, a brochure, a packet of organic sunflower seeds and an emery board made of recycled cardboard that was imprinted with her website address. While other cosmetic companies gave away cosmetic product samples, Linda charged for her samples because they are the core of her business. Linda says that the items she gave away were inexpensive and they made her customers happy. And this made Linda happy because the free items did not cut nearly as deeply into her profit margin as giving away free samples of her handmade beauty products would have.

In his book, “Free Prize Inside,” author Seth Godin talks about the fact that a “free” gift does not have to be spectacular and earth shattering to make an impression. People remember that “something extra” they get for choosing to do business with you, even when it doesn't cost a lot of money. Free gifts don't have to be expensive to capture people's attention and cause them to remember your brand in a positive light.

So take a tip from Linda and stop giving away the core of your profit margin. Create a collection of inexpensive, branded tokens of appreciation that you can share with your customers. They'll appreciate your sincerity and they also just might value your products more when they see that you are not giving them away.

Question: What do you think of Linda's strategy? What inexpensive freebies can you offer customers to put your business in a positive light without breaking the bank?

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About Donna Maria Coles Johnson

Donna Maria is an author, podcaster, attorney, and the founder and CEO of the Indie Business Network, providing affordable product liability insurance and mentoring. Donna Maria teaches Makers and Creative Entrepreneurs how to use technology and community to build a profitable, sustainable business.